Season ends early for Saints TE Thomas as he goes on IR

New Orleans Saints tight end David Thomas was placed on injured reserve Tuesday, ending his season, the Times-Picayune reported.

The Saints did not announce Thomas' injury, but he appeared to suffer a concussion during New Orleans' Week 10 victory over the Atlanta Falcons. A severe concussion sidelined Thomas for five games earlier in the year.

The Saints promoted undrafted rookie tight end Michael Higgins from the practice squad to the active roster to take Thomas' roster spot. They replaced Higgins on the practice squad with Daniel Hardy Jr., a seventh-round draft pick of Tampa Bay in 2011. Hardy was released by the Bucs on Sept. 3.

Losing Thomas for the rest of the year will hurt. Although starting tight end Jimmy Graham is the Saints' primary receiving threat at the position, Thomas is a standout blocker who helps the offensive line up front. When he was out earlier this year, veteran tight end John Gilmore and fullback Jed Collins, among others, helped fill the void.

Also, linebacker Jon Vilma, who has missed the past two games with left knee soreness, was back on the practice field Tuesday, albeit with a brace. Because the Saints were not yet required to file an injury report with the league for Monday's game against the New York Giants, coach Sean Payton declined to be specific about the defensive captain's status.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

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